Winter is fast approaching, which means that many wild animals will be looking for warm shelters to escape the cold and snow. Raccoons can find clever ways to get into your home and wreak havoc if successful. Females looking for places to create nests can rip off shingles, fascia boards, or ventilators to gain access to attics.
Once inside, they can tear up insulation on walls and heating and air conditioning ducts. Urine and feces can attract parasites, which can make their way into the rest of the house. Raccoons also frequently create dens in uncapped chimneys, under decks and porches, and inside crawl spaces under houses.
There are, however, several steps you can take to protect your home from these pests. Since raccoons are attracted to food, avoid leaving food outdoors and use metal garbage cans with secure lids. It is also a good idea to keep trash cans in a wooden bin or garage to prevent a clever and determined raccoon from opening them.
Raccoons love to make dens in wooded areas, such as trees and wood piles. To avoid this, remove wood piles and trim overgrown shrubs. Since raccoons are skilled climbers, you should trim branches so they are at least five feet from the roof and avoid trellises and arbors, which can allow raccoons to gain access to your attic. Keep eves, soffits, and overhangs free of water damage, since raccoons can find weak areas and use them to make their way onto the roof. Install a cap on your chimney to prevent a female from creating a den for herself and her young.
Raccoons also seek out homes under porches, decks, and sheds. To keep them out, cover open spaces under these structures with 1/4 or 1/3 inch galvanized hardware mesh that is buried at least six inches deep, extends outward 12 inches, and is covered with soil. This will also keep out other pests, such as skunks, opossums, squirrels, and rats.
While raccoons can cause serious damage to your property, you can prevent this by taking precautions before they take up residence to escape the cold weather. These steps will greatly reduce your chances of finding an unwelcome visitor this winter.